A Critical Incident is an incident or stressor event (crisis event) which appears to cause, or be associated
with, a crisis response and which has the ability to overwhelm a person’s usual coping mechanism
(Everly and Mitchell, 1999).
The most severe forms of Critical Incident (CI) may be considered traumatic incidents.
Ambulance personnel are more commonly exposed to smaller scale traumatic events such as road traffic
accidents, suicides or COT deaths (Clohessy and Ehlers, 1999). An event may occasionally be so
traumatic or overwhelming that emergency personnel may subsequently experience a significant stress
Critical Incident Stress (CIS) is the stress reaction of a person or a group to a Critical Incident (or CI)
and is characterised by a wide range of cognitive, physical, emotional and behavioural signs and
symptoms which are likely to diminish over time (Lavan & McManamly, 2003). It may be viewed as a
collection of symptoms which develop in response to unusual or abnormal life events.
This training programme runs over five days and is followed, about six months later, by a further two
days training. In addition Peer Supporters are expected to attend one day annual refresher training
sessions. The Peer Supporter/Stress Awareness Trainer curriculum includes modules on Critical Incident
Stress Management in the Irish Ambulance Service
This Guide addresses stress management fo emergency medical, fire service or military personnel, volunteer groups and Gardai/police and other personnel who may encounter stressful situations
SOME DO’S AND DON’TS It is very common, in fact quite normal, for people to experience emotional aftershocks when they have experienced a critical incident.